Lenses. Myths and reality.

Previously, the material described below was part of an article on lens types, but the article grew and broke into two separate parts.

Lenses. Myths and reality.

Lenses. Myths and reality.

When choosing a photo lens, many users of photographic equipment immediately want to get a fast 50x superzoom lens with macro photography, beautiful bokeh and 'razor' sharpness. Unfortunately, no such lens for interchangeable-lens cameras exists yet. This is due to the laws of physics and the complexity of manufacturing.

About zoom lenses:

  • There are practically no aperture universal lenses for full-format cameras with a relative aperture of F2.8 and having zoom over 3X... Almost all fixed F2.8 photo lenses have a zoom ratio of no more than three (3X). These lenses include the ranges: 11-16mm, 14-24mm, 20-35mm, 20-40mm, 24-70mm, 28-70mm, 28-80mm, 70 (80) -200 (210) - all such lenses have a magnification zoom up to 3X. The conclusion is very simple - fast superzoom does not exist. The largest zoom equal to 3.75X and aperture F / 2.8 has a lens Tamron SP AF Aspherical LD ​​[IF] 28-105mm 1: 2.8 276D.
  • No cheap autofocus fast zoom lens with F / 2.8.
  • Zoom lenses with high zoom ratio and constant F do not have high aperture and are very expensive. These lenses include the Nikon 24-120mm F / 4G VR and Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 LIS USM.
  • No lungs autofocus fast telephoto lenses with a constant aperture of F / 2.8.
  • Virtually no super-fast zoom lenses... Typically, all fast zoom lenses are limited to f / 2.8. The f / 2.8 limitation is a serious lack of zooms. As an exception, I can only cite the Sigma 18-35 / 1.8, and then, this lens is designed only to work with APS-C cameras.
  • In some cases, instead of one universal heavy superzoom lens, such as 18-200mm, 18-270mm, 18-300mm, you can use multiple zoom lensesFor example, 18-300mm can be replaced by a bunch of 18-55mm + 55-300mm. Sometimes a set of multiple lenses can be cheaper than one super zoom.
  • In general, the zoom lens has a deterioration in image quality with increasing zoom ratio. The larger the zoom, the worse the quality. But there are exceptions.

About fixed lenses:

  • Only fixed lenses have aperture of F2.0, F1.4, F1.2 and lower. This means that if you need a super-bright lens, then only fix can come to the rescue.
  • The cheapest fast autofocus lens Nikon 50mm F1.8D for 100 cu will have 2.5 times more aperture than the most expensive Nikon 70-200VR F2.8which costs more than 2000 cu These are the pies, because when you look at the super-large and super-expensive zooms of other photographers, always remember that a small, ultra-light lens can put professional zoom in at aperture on the shoulder blades. Often, the same statement holds true for image quality, such as relatively dark Industar-50-2 F3.5 (but super cheap) - can easily sharpen the legendary 24-70mm f / 2.8 lenses.
  • I do not recommend chasing professional zooms like 80-200 F2.8, 70-200 F2.8, 24-70 F2.8, etc. They are very heavy, they are difficult to transport, they do not always fit in a case. Such zooms are needed mainly for professional shooting. I often have to shoot, and I know that in 1 day from a heavy ligament, the lens + camera + flash, my hands get very tired. Very often, a fix with an average focal length weighs several times less and with it you can do the same thing. For example, to replace a lens of class 70-200mm, you can take one fix at 135mm, to replace 24-70 you can take a super high-quality fifty-fifty lens. To replace 50-14, you can take 24mm. Ideally, the zoom is divided into several fixes. In no way do I agitate to switch to fixes, I just share some thoughts on this.
  • Huge aperture fix lenses in most cases is not used when shooting. But big aperture such lenses allows more accurate operation auto focus system, and gives a bright image in the optical viewfinder, which is important when manual focusing.

Talking about image quality is a very slippery topic. My opinion is that you can't just compare lenses of different classes and types. You can only compare certain of their parameters (sharpness, aperture, color rendition), but we cannot talk about the quality of the image in general. You cannot compare zooms and fixes - they have different tasks and, of course, different formed images. Lenses with different focal lengths cannot be compared - they have different tasks.

Myths about lenses:

  1. Using a fixed lens, you can immediately get a masterpiece - it's a delusion. Fixed lenses have the best image quality indicators, aperture - but not more. Getting a good shot takes a certain approach. The lack of zoom in prime lenses is compensated by the photographer's feet. There is even such a comic concept: “on the fix you need to zoom with your feet“. The most difficult fix in my practice is Helios-40-2.
  2. Zoom Convenience... Convenient use of zooms is not always as “convenient” as they say. Zooms are almost always heavier than prime lenses and are difficult to transport. My 70-300VR barely fits in a wardrobe trunk. A large zoom lens is more difficult to control, and your hands get tired from it. With dynamic shooting with dashes, a large zoom is easier to catch and break. Personally, I mutilated lenses during my practice. It is customary to say that zooms break more often, as they have more moving parts, have more problems (with protruding the trunk, and the function of "vacuum cleaner").
  3. The inconvenience of fixes... Fixes are not always as inconvenient as they say. Fixes are generally much easier than zooms. For example, when shooting a portrait at 100mm fixed, you always know that there will be no distortion, but if you shoot at a zoom (for example, 18-105mm), then you often approach the subject, accidentally reduce the focal length, and you end up with a 'barrel' (barrel-shaped distortion) and, as a result, not the most pleasant picture. Therefore, using a zoom lens, you have to additionally monitor the focal length. For tele-zooms, you still need to carefully monitor shutter speed, since a 70-200mm lens in the 70mm position can be removed for 1 \ 80 s, but when zoomed in for 200 mm, shooting at 1 \ 80s does not always work.
  4. Cheapest fix is ​​better than expensive zoom. A counterexample, for a wide angle, an 18-70mm zoom is much better than a cheap 50mm fix. It all depends on the situation and needs.
  5. Aperture - always good. In fact, on a sunny day at ISO 100, it is very difficult to use an aperture below F1.8, since there is a lot of light and dose it with excerpts not always possible. Some cameras have a restriction on shutter speed in 1/4000 of a second, and if you set F1.4 during the day, then you can’t do without overexposure. To reduce the amount of transmitted light but keep a small depth of field, neutral filters should be used. Also, super aperture gives a very small depth of field. For some purposes, a small depth of field is unacceptable.
  6. A dark lens is always bad. This is not always true. For example, for a studio it is quite possible to use a whale "dark" lens. In the studio, you can use a lot of light and most often shooting takes place at apertures of F5.6-F16.0. Because of this, a dark lens is a good thing as you can save money on an expensive fast lens.
  7. You need to have a complete set of lenses in a range of 14-200mm or so. This is not so, my colleagues often get by with two, three lenses and many have not closed some range of focal lengths. Personally, I don’t have a wide-angle range, I limit myself to 17-85mm on crop and 28-135 on full frame. I tried a bunch of lenses as I write photographic reviews and made conclusions for my needs. Other people will draw their conclusions... If you do not try, you will not know, therefore, I do not recommend taking thoughts to heart on all kinds of photo forums. There are many photographers in history who shot with one lens all their lives and did not spend a drop of energy on the choice of technology.

Personal experience:

I’m constantly asked what I use for shooting. I like fixes and it’s not difficult for me to rearrange the frame to run back and forth. At the same time, I also use zoom lenses, they can really simplify the life of the photographer. What types and sets of lenses to use, everyone must decide for himself.


It is very difficult to find one lens with which you can shoot different types. Often you have to use a set of several lenses.

↓↓↓ Like the review and share the link in social networks ↓↓↓. Thanks for attention. Arkady Shapoval

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Comments: 163, on the topic: Lenses. Myths and reality.

  • Uncle Fedor

    I shoot with Nikon. “You can't harness one cart, a horse and a quivering doe” - Uncle Fyodor.
    If someone bothers artistically, then only fixes. My direction is to knock off a little money and, as much as I like art, it outweighs rationality and there is no better breakdown of 24-70. Try changing the lens in nature, in dense grass, pollen flies, chambers and midges, spider beetles, the wind blew on the matrix and swamp and in general. The director of the site said that the zoom is not desirable (listing the disadvantages) just because it is large in size and can be injured. And, when changing lenses, you can injure more and more and faster, especially in action, and how many frames you will skip while you change, so only (during reporting) the zoom, the only thing it should be of high quality - real and not a big break - the classic 24-70, the rest is all from the evil one - marketing, a lohatron for loshar - the laws of physics have not been canceled yet For money - value for money is Sigma

    • Syoma

      Well, for shooting an event in the background, the classic is already 70-200.

    • Daniel

      I agree about Sigma, he himself has AF 70-300 f4-5.6 with 1: 2 macro mode. But without 14mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm, 200mm, 500mm and 1000mm, it is not autumn that it is interesting to record nature.

  • Christina

    Hello Arkady, I need your advice! I already have a 50mm Nikon lens and now I choose between 35 mm and 16-85 mm. Is it possible that 35 mm will replace me full-time for work in the studio and outdoors?

    • Vitaly N

      Christina, no matter how good 35 mm is, I would choose a zoom for nature. They cannot fully replace each other. There are 35 and 50, but most often on the camera is the zoom. Often the plot is more important than razor sharpness, low ISO and blurry background.

      • Christina

        Vitaly N, thank you for your advice! I also heard on Radozhin's website that many do not buy zooms, but switch to fixes ... Yes, a fix is ​​steeper than any zoom, and from this I have a problem :(.

        • Onotole

          If fixes had such an indisputable advantage over zooms, everyone would have switched to them long ago and the zooms could have been seen only in a museum. Both there and there there is a certain compromise, in something you win, in something you lose. Moreover, this set of pros and cons is very individual, i.e. no one will decide for you. It is imperative to try for yourself and then and then decide on your own. And ideally - have everything at once.

  • Andrei

    Ndya ... I got a Nikon D80 for free - without optics (this is ok, since initially I want to attach it to a triocular microscope). But the camera, although not particularly modern, in general, is still quite. But after reading about all these lenses - zooms, fixes, etc. I came to a simple conclusion - for shooting outdoors there is nothing more convenient than ultra-zooms - so I will look for a modern replacement for my old man Cannon Powershot 2 IS - the broken pixels have come out :-( and I want more megapixels and more modern video ...
    And carrying a DSLR and a backpack of optics with you is difficult and expensive, well, in nature it is fraught with its quick murder ...

  • Vitaly Timushev

    Long ago, back in the last century, while shooting with Zenit, I began to acquire different lenses. Later I settled on two: Mir 1B and Jupiter 21M. These lenses were enough for all my needs. There was only one significant inconvenience - changing lenses. As a result, I bought a second camera and almost all problems were solved. There was only one - additional weight. But, since the weight of one additional carcass was not very large, I resigned myself and did not pay attention to it anymore. This is a preface.
    After the advent of digital cameras, an approximate repetition of the past began. He began to look for a more or less universal zoom, glad that he would not need to buy several lenses. I tried several and realized that at least two again could not do. And in the future, despite the possibility of a quick change of the lens, he again came to the need to purchase a second camera.
    Many people understood and know about the need to have at least two lenses. I wanted to focus on the need for a second camera. This is not only the convenience of using different focal lengths, but also more safety for lenses that you will not lose when changing (as mentioned above). Also, excess dust will not get into the chamber (an example was also given). The plus from the amenities, in my opinion, exceeds the minus from the extra weight. The extra weight is not particularly noticeable when using mirrorless cameras, since they are lighter.

  • Oleg

    Damn ... there were more questions than answers. On a neighboring resource they stand for fix https://linkphoto.ru/fiks-ili-zum-vybiraem-osnovnoy-obektiv/ But still, there is no certainty that fixes are better. What do you advise?

    • Michael

      Watching for what. It all depends on the type of shooting. In terms of image quality, fixes are generally better

  • Alexander

    I really like to take unhurried portraits for fixes.
    And if there is some kind of movement, and even on the street - only 24-70 and 80-200.

  • Pineapple

    "There are practically no super fast zoom lenses."

    Has already. Sigma 50-100mm f / 1.8, Sigma 18-35mm f / 1.8 for crop and Sigma 24-35mm f / 2 for full frame. Dear ones, of course.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      They are not super-fast, it is F / 1.4 and below

      • Pineapple

        Ah, then yes. Although for zoom 1.8 or 2 it is very good, as for me.

    • Roman

      And not so expensive. Just basically useless.

      • Pineapple

        Why useless? Offhand, astrophotography and reporting in small clubs come to mind. For those who work on crop, and fans of 50-100 will come in handy, according to reviews there is good image quality.

  • Ramil

    I want to buy Sigma 17-50 f 2.8, they shot a video on it. Where is less lens wear when shooting video or photo? Thank.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      No difference + - the same.

    • Pokemon

      It depends on whether the person was engaged in commerce or not.
      And how neat he was.
      Because when taking a photo - a person can take it out 1-2 times a year on a trip (while dropping the camera in the sand or pouring it with beer / water), or can bomb weddings on it every week.
      In short, you need to watch it yourself on your camera - how autofocus works and the appearance of the lens, which can tell a lot about how it was used.

  • j.

    Good day!
    You are constantly asked what to buy, advise and already got it. And in the past, on your advice, I acquired the Canon eos 60 d. Now the task is to replace the whale with a sharp portrait, with which I will hunt mushrooms for half the time in poorly lit forests. The budget for a used lens is 5-10 Russian thousands. Help out advice with possible options. Thank!

    • Rodion

      Zenitar-C 50 / 1.2s. For canoncrop very, very good.

    • Roman

      Oh, if it's mushrooms and lighting - Canon has a wonderful cropped makrik - 35 / 2.8 IS STM with a stub and built-in lighting. I just looked at the prices for Avito - for some reason, it costs you at the level of 17-55. I was lucky to find it much cheaper.

    • Michael

      You can see the old Sigma 50 1.4 DG. A very good option

  • Ruslan

    Arkady, are you planning to review the 18-300 sigma?
    Gentlemen, amateurs and professionals, what about this lens? your opinion is very interesting

    • B. R. P.

      Personally, I am not happy with super-zooms.

      • Ivan

        This is a no brainer. If everything were so simple, then there would be no fixes and other variety of lenses. There would be one superzoom that would replace everything.

  • Tanya

    help me figure it out, if canon 800D F4 / 0-5 / 6, and the lens is 2.0 fixed (for example), how will the photo look like? more precisely, will the lens reveal itself in all its photos?
    or am I misunderstanding something
    thank you

    • Ivan

      You don't really understand. 800D is the camera, and F4 / 0-5 / 6 is the lens characteristics (it is not clear which one), and then you ask about the lens with the F2. Decide what you mean.

      • Tanya

        I mean, the aperture on the camera is 4/0 minimum
        on lens 2.0 minimum
        i.e. F in the camera is less than in the lens
        the question is, is it worth taking a lens with aperture 2.0, will such bright photos end up?
        I can't write what's in my head :)))))
        it's easier to ask which prime lens will fit the Canon 800D (budget 50.000)

        • Ivan

          F in the camera cannot be smaller than in the lens. Deal with this first. And the lens itself in inept hands will not give bright and beautiful photos.

        • Pokemon

          "Is it worth taking a lens with a 2.0 aperture, will such bright photos end up?"
          Even if you buy Canon50 / 1.2 + Canon85 / 1.2 + Sigma 18-35 / 1.8 right now, it WILL NOT change your photos in ANY way.
          1) Read the instructions for the camera
          2) Watch videos on youtube for newbies in photography

        • Victor

          Any fix with ef or ef-s mount will fit the 800d camera.

          The rest is up to you. You can get an interesting picture at 50 1.8II, or you can shoot UG at 135/2 or 85 / 1.4.

      • Tanya

        yes, the aperture is in the kit lens from the camera :)) 4.0 / -5 / 6
        damn, got it

        • Ivan

          Well done! And the budget is 50000, is it for the lens? Others will better tell you about the lens for Canon here, or see for yourself from the reviews on the site.

          • Tanya

            yes, I plan on the lens
            so I want not to miss

            • Pokemon

              You have not indicated who or what you are planning to shoot (in jpg?), It is not clear what focal points are needed. Bright photos can be obtained by looking at a light bulb in the evening.
              Buying an expensive lens with minimal experience is no substitute for experience. Most likely, the purchase will fall on the shelf, and you will not reveal the potential of the purchased lens.
              If you want to change a simple whale 18-55 for something better, for example Canon 17-55 / 2.8:

    • Ivan

      In principle, the lens cannot reveal itself. Only a skilled photographer can reveal its possibilities.

  • Daniel

    But what about 18-400mm (22.2x) 16-300mm (18.7x) 50-500mm (10x). Although they are dark, they are good for nature in the sun. Are there modifications 14-300 or 16-400, 70-600 ...? Or there is only one 150-600 (4x). I know that there are cinematographic ones, but the bayonet is not compatible with nikon f.

  • Kremlin

    Ef 200mm f/1.8L A heavy bastard, but when you shoot with it you forget about it.

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